In a policy change prompted by a recent Supreme Court ruling, the United States will now give equal treatment to same-sex married couples applying for visas, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday.
The change affects applications by foreign nationals in a legal same-sex marriage with a U..S. citizen, as well as foreign gays and lesbians who are legally married.
Before the high court stuck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which limited legal marriage to heterosexuals, only opposite-sex couples had their visa applications considered together. All others were evaluated individually.
"Now, as long as a marriage has been performed in a jurisdiction that recognizes it, so that it is legal, then that marriage is valid under U.S. immigration laws, and every married couple will be treated exactly the same," Kerry said at the U.S. Embassy in London.
The new policy applies worldwide, regardless of whether same-sex marriage is legal in countries where embassies, consulates and visa-processing facilities are located.